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10 June, 2021

Brewing news India: Beer sales drop by 39% in 2020

India’s drinks industry suffered its worst year in recent memory due to the pandemic as a nationwide lockdown for more than a month and subsequent closure of bars, pubs, restaurants and hotels till early September wreaked havoc on sales of whiskey, beer, rum and vodka, the Time of India reported on June 9.

Total sales volume crashed about 29% to 474 mln cases (of 9 litres each) in 2020, from 668 mln in 2019, as per latest data from IWSR Drinks Market Analysis. This is the second year in a row that volumes dropped. In 2019, sales were down 3.4% due to a slowing economy, which negatively impacted consumer demand.

Sales of spirits – which include whiskey, gin, vodka, rum and brandy – were down 20% to 277 mln cases in 2020. Within this, gin sales were the worst hit, dropping 57% to 0.8 mln cases as people socialized less.

Sales of beer, which make up 41% of the total national alcohol sales, dropped 39% to 193 mln cases because the lockdown coincided with the peak season.

“Beer and RTDs (ready to drink) suffered precipitous falls, deprived of many of the venues and occasions that had driven consumption forward. The timing of the lockdown could not have been worse, especially for beer. The category relies on young urban drinkers and after-work occasions and its peak season for consumption was about to start,” IWRS said in its report.

As institutions remain shut, people drank more at home. The report cautioned that while the segment recovered quickly in the second half of 2020, the second wave and subsequent lockdowns have taken away hopes of a rapid recovery. “Any momentum gained in the latter half of 2020 and into the new year is now in danger of being lost.”


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